Veteran turf campaigner Twilight Meteor gets a little class relief when he takes on nine rivals, including Barbaro's full brother Nicanor, in the $150,000 Canadian Turf Stakes (gr. IIIT) Feb. 27 at Gulfstream Park.
Trained by Marty Wolfson for Peachtree Stable, 7-year-old Twilight Meteor weakened to fifth after stalking the pace in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (gr. IT) in his first start of the season Feb. 5. He'll be shortening up by a furlong in the one-mile Canadian Turf.
The chestnut son of Smart Strike was retired for stud duty in May 2009, a few months after winning the 2009 Canadian Turf. He returned to the races with a pair of starts late last year, including a victory in Calder's Tropical Turf Handicap (gr. IIIT) Dec. 4. He was trained by Todd Pletcher earlier in his career.
“Apparently, there wasn’t enough of a market for him at stud,” said Wolfson. “I’m not aware of any serious infirmities and I’m very pleased with the way he has come back and trained. I think he’s best at a mile.”
Bred in Ontario, Canada by Kinghaven Farms Limited, Twilight Meteor is out of the With Approval mare One Over Prime, a half-sister to Canadian champions Poetically and Primaly, and to U.S. grade I winner Citronnade.
Alex Solis, who rode Twilight Meteor in the Turf Handicap, gets the return call in the Canadian Turf. It is the 10th race on the Gulfstream program with a probable start time of 5:26 p.m. EST.
Twilight Meteor, carrying co-high weight of 121 pounds, owns a 5-4-4 lifetime mark and earnings of $645,944. He breaks from post 4.
Lael Stables' homebred Nicanor starts the 2011 season for trainer Michael Matz still seeking his first stakes win. The 5-year-old son of Dynaformer makes his first appearance since finishing third in an overnight stakes at Aqueduct Nov. 26. The bay horse is a four-time winner in 13 starts and races in graded stakes company for the first time since fading to sixth in last spring's Dixie Stakes (gr. II) at Pimlico. He finished second twice on Gulfstream's turf course as a maiden early in 2009.
Nicanor, ridden by Julien Leparoux, figures to be on or near the lead with the swift Little Mike and a couple of others.
Priscilla Vaccarezza's homebred Little Mike went gate-to-wire for a hard-fought nose victory in Gulfstream's 1 1/16-mile Ft. Lauderdale Stakes Jan. 9 at 12-1 odds for trainer Allen Iwinski. Asked to go a little farther the next time, the 4-year-old son of Spanish Steps failed to last after setting the pace in the Turf Handicap, finishing sixth.
Dale Romans now trains Little Mike, who will be ridden once again by Joe Bravo.
The 8-year-old Society's Chairman also has a graded stakes win over the Gulfstream lawn, taking last spring's Appleton Stakes (gr. IIIT) by a head. Charles Fipke and George Waud's Ontario-bred son of Not Impossible has not been out since finishing ninth in the TVG Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) at Churchill Downs Nov. 6.
Runner-up in Keeneland's Shadwell Turf Mile (gr. IT) last fall, Society's Chairman is trained by Roger Attfield and will be ridden by Jose Lezcano. He has seven wins in 25 starts and leads the field in earnings with $653,033.
Yankee Fourtune, winner of the Commonwealth Turf Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs last fall for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, brings a five-race winning streak on turf in to his return to action. Harvey Clarke and Andrew Albstein's gray/roan gelding has only lost once, that coming in his debut at Monmouth Park on dirt in September 2009.
Since transferring to the grass, Yankee Fourtune is unbeaten. His streak includes a win in the Hawthorne Derby (gr. IIIT) prior to the Commonwealth Turf.
Black Sheep Racing’s China makes his turf and stakes debut for trainer Todd Quast. The 4-year-old Tale of the Cat colt makes his first start since scoring a hard-fought nose victory in a six-furlong allowance race run over a sloppy track at Churchill Nov. 25.
$150,000 Canadian Turf Stakes (gr. IIIT, Race 10, 5:26 p.m.), 4 & Up, 1 Mile
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Society's Chairman (ON), J Lezcano, 117, R L Attfield
2. Zifzaf (KY), J Castellano, 117, J J Toner
3. Nicanor (KY), J R Leparoux, 117, M R Matz
4. Twilight Meteor (ON), A O Solis, 121, M D Wolfson
5. Dr. Smarty Jack (KY), E Trujillo, 117, M Nihei
6. Yankee Fourtune (KY), V Santiago, 121, K P McLaughlin
7. Little Mike (FL), J Bravo, 121, D L Romans
8. Rogue Victory (KY), K J Desormeaux, 117, G Weaver
9. Tannersville (FL), L Jurado, 117, H Collazo
10. China (KY), R Maragh, 117, T Quast